7/21/2021, noon
Augustana Church, located at 5500 S. Woodlawn, now has a Love Fridge, the food-sharing collective. The goal of the Love ...
The Hyde Park Love Fridge, located near 5500 S. Woodlawn, is available to those in need of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat. Photos courtesy of University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement
 Love Fridge A Food-Sharing Collective Provides For Community

Augustana Church, located at 5500 S. Woodlawn, now has a Love Fridge, the food-sharing collective. The goal of the Love Fridge is to provide food for those in need, as well as give those who want to donate food a chance to give back to the community.

A Love Fridge was previously located in Hyde Park in August 2020
but removed because there was some pushback. Velma Smith, the organizer for the Love Fridge, said the collective always wanted to come back to Hyde Park because it was so well-connected within the community, for the people who wanted the fridge there.

Kafi Moragne-Patterson, director of civic engagement at University of
Chicago, said the Love Fridge is an opportunity for mutual aid for community members and University affiliates. She said it is her hope that University of Chicago students will serve as managers of the fridge, as well as serve as ambassadors to make people aware of the fridge.

“It was all about partnering with the right folks to get a fridge there, luckily, Kafi and the church reached out to us,” Smith said.

Smith said the Love Fridge is rooted in mutual aid where the collective
believes in food sovereignty as well as not giving out food waste. Smith said Love Fridge partners with businesses, community organizations and churches to host fridges. Those partners clean the fridges and put food inside them.

Smith said there is food distribution where people get food from different
partners to fill the fridge. And, people can buy food to put in the fridges. Food distribution takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays and there are 30 Love Fridge locations throughout Chicago.

“Some of the things we see is people who need food are able to just go in and get food, no questions asked, no one telling how much they should get, no one telling them how much they need, which I think people really love,” Smith said. “One of the things we’ve seen within
the pandemic is that, food pantries sometimes require identification to get food. With the Love Fridge, you don’t need that. You just go in and get whatever you need. Most of our fridges are 24-7 as well so you can get food at any time from one of the fridge locations.”

Yael Hoffman posted on a neighborhood listserv that she was trying to bring the Love Fridge back to Hyde Park and looking for a privately owned space. Hoffman said the one reply she received was from Augustana’s Pastor Nancy Goede.

Hoffman said she thinks the concept of the Love Fridge is wonderful. She said one week it is completely filled and the next completely empty and needs to be stocked.

“People have found it; people are using it. I think it’s a well-managed
organization. I think it’s very organized and there is obviously a need,” she said. “We have the food pantries that provide beans, rice, cans goods, but people need fresh food for their kids, themselves and
for the elderly. You need dairy, meat, and vegetables. So, this fills that need.”

“The challenges of the pandemic suggested that at any point any of us
could find ourselves and our families in precarious situations related to food security, so we wanted to acknowledge that a wide variety of people may be in need of healthy food options,” said Kafi Moragne-Patterson. “Students, coming from both international and domestic
locations, community members, staff, and others may be in need of temporary, or long-term assistance, and if this fridge can ease that burden in some small way until larger systemic issues of class inequity are addressed, the University Community Service Center wanted to play that small role.”